As usual at this time of year, high school seniors across the country are agonizing over the college admissions waiting game. Applications, scores, and transcripts are in, and we’re down to the final days of mostly-secret committee deliberations.
This spring has brought added worry and confusion because of the recent college admissions bribery scandal that’s been all over the news and the ongoing high-profile lawsuit claiming that the Harvard admissions process engages in discriminatory “racial balancing.”
But I am pleased to announce that, at last, a crack has opened up in those carved, oaken doors. Below is an exclusive, leaked transcript I’ve obtained of an Ivy admissions committee as it reaches the key points of its consideration on whether to accept or reject:
Director of Admissions: Is the Dome of Secrecy in place? Everyone taken the blood oath? Very well. Let’s return to our discussion of File #1659-R-18.
Associate Director: As I mentioned, #1659-R-18 is a legacy. One of our lacrosse centers is named for her great-great-uncle, Rear Admiral Nelson H. Flaxington.
Officer: [Sound of a manila folder cracking] Am I supposed to stick on one of the Sparkly Stars for that, or the Black Dot?
Assistant Director: An Admiral uncle? That’s probably a Dot. Remember, the University does not currently recognize the legitimacy of the U.S. Navy or Coast Guard. What are her grades like?
Officer: [Shuffling of papers] Straight A’s at a top public high school. Ranked first in class. 790 on one SAT, 800 on the other.
Associate Director: We don’t require candidate SATs anymore. So, that’s almost certainly a Dot. Class rank, as you all know, is class-ist. It rates some highly, leaves others behind. Plus, we have other A-students in the class so far.
Assistant Director: And when it comes to “top public schools,” they’re now on our watch list. Conduits of suburban advantage.
Director: Does #1659-R-18 play the tuba?
Officer: What? Why do you ask?
Director: Urgent note here from the band director. They’re one brass instrument short.
Officer: [More paper shuffling] No evidence I can see of musical aptitude. But this kid’s dynamite academically. Absolute dynamite.
Associate Director: Let’s try not to digress, people. Does #1659-R-18 have any record of high-school microagressions? Is she gender questioning?
Officer: [More shuffling. A cough.] The file doesn’t say exactly. But she has spectacular study habits. Says here she won two national awards in applied math.
Assistant Director: Is #1659-R-18 from one of the underserved zip codes in the mountain or prairie states? We’re light on the Great Plains this year.
Officer: No, but…
Director: Folks, I seem to recall that this is a rare case of an applicant not submitting any YouTube videos. That’s troubling. I enjoy watching those when I have my Cappuccino.
Officer: No videos. But #1659-R-18 is a published novelist and poet. The teacher recommendations note that she’s a “highly original thinker” and likes to spend time “reading books and writing analytical essays.”
Assistant Director: Applied math. Analytical essays. At the top of her class. Put them all together, and the conclusion is unavoidable. Applicant #1659-R-18 is….
Associate Director: … she’s…
Assistant Director: That’s correct. She’s shy.
[Sound of a file cascading to the floor.]
Associate Director: Why that’s… that’s…
Director: Yes. It’s a Black Dot.
Officer: Wait, there’s one more notation here.
Director: Time to move on, people.
Officer: The file addendum records that #1659-R-18 sent us a gift.
Assistant Director: A gift? What kind?
Officer: It’s cake.
Director: Cake? [Sounds of cabinets opening.]
Associate Director: [Muffled] This is German Chocolate.
Officer: What do we do? A shy candidate who bakes.
Assistant Director: Sounds like Wait List to me. Or the wait list for our Wait List.
Director: All concur? [Chorus of assent. Some scattered applause.] Now, it’s well past our afternoon break time.
Can someone get the Secrecy Dome to retract so I can make my Cappuccino?
Peter Mandel of Providence is an author of books for children, including Jackhammer Sam (Macmillan) and Bun, Onion, Burger (Simon & Schuster).